This school won’t be needing any duct tape.
The concrete foundation for the new Belmont secondary is “95-per-cent complete” and the structural steel is already coming in. While passersby might not see major changes to the project day-to-day, despite there being just over a year before occupancy, site superintendent Al Nichol said the 145,000 square-foot, 46-classroom school is well on its way.
“There is plenty of work happening on the opposite side and in the background,” he said. “That might not be quite as apparent to the untrained eye.”
The state-of-the-art facility, being built by contractor Yellowridge Construction Ltd., which secured the bid in May of 2013, sits on a 500,000 square foot piece of property along Glen Lake Road.
It will hit its next milestone this September, with the plan to have the roof completed and the building sealed up for the rainy season in November, Nichol said.
“I will deal with the weather; I always do.”
Nichol, who attended Belmont 24 years ago and got into construction shortly after, said the run-down current school has run its course. He’s excited at the prospect of turning over the new building to principal Ray Miller and the 1,200 grade 9 to 12 students who will start school there in September 2015.
“I can’t wait to see the result, where the ideas of so many become a school,” Miller said. “It has been a very consultative process with so many people that it is exciting to now see those ideas get drawn on paper and eventually constructed.”
The new building will feature seven science labs, a multi-purpose lab and an atrium on the top floor. It is being built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold standard, with an eye to staying current even as education evolves.
“This school is built in around the concept of future proofing,” Miller said. “We are building a (school) today that will look a lot like a traditional school, however, the infrastructure is such that it will be able to evolve and adapt to changes of education and the needs of learning for the next 50 years.”
The school will also feature a technology and arts centre, a two-storey library in the centre, three learning communities, a community use neighbourhood learning centre, a sports field and two gymnasiums with three basketball courts.
“It will be largest gymnasium on the Island. Just the gym alone is (awe inspiring) … We are (also) holding off purchasing equipment so we can have the most current equipment when the school opens,” Miller said. “We have put a lot of thought into how we can make it not just look like all the other schools over the last number of years, but to be a learning community where people are sharing and learning together, both teachers and students.”
In order to produce such a facility within the next 14 months, Nichol, who oversaw new school construction in Port Alberni and Lake Cowichan, said his team of 40 to 50 workers will grow to more than 100 as the school gets closer to occupancy.
He looks forward to showing off the four-floor learning facility upon completion. With fancy touches such as a flood of natural light from the atrium and showpiece wood ceilings in the library, the school will outdo the current one in every aspect, he said.
“I love construction and building and seeing people’s reactions at the end of the job; that is why I do this. I think they are going to be excited. To be honest, I think they will be blown away coming from the old Belmont. They will be blown away.”